My longer-than-a-week hiatus has two real excuses.

1.) I was under a blog detox. A while back I posted a lolcats picture, and for the past few weeks, my search engine terms have been crammed with people looking for FUNNY CATS! Seriously. There has been little else. In fact, my hits have been nearly 250 hits higher than average. It was really annoying me. I was disappointed that I couldn’t check my blog stats and be proud that I had 358 hits. They really didn’t care about my writing. They just cared about the FUNNY CATS! So, I deleted the lolcats picture off my blog, and it took about a week for Google Images to figure out that the post no longer exists.

2.) Work has been nuts. Every night I’ve come home exhausted. This job has really made me appreciate assembly-line workers. I can’t imagine working on an assembly line for more than a month. I’m so thankful that it worked out for me to have this job for this short time that I’m home, but today I am even more thankful that tomorrow my paycheck will be in my hands, and I can move on to bigger and better things….

LIKE CALIFORNIA! BECAUSE I’M LEAVING IN 9 DAYS!

Also, some pretty amazing things have happened in the past few days that remind me just how great God’s faithfulness is. The money came through from the insurance company for the Great Rear-Ending of 2007, and with some generosity from my father, it covered the cost of my new car, the Sable Who Has No Name. My dad also did some work on the car for me, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a mechanic father. Let’s just say that after he told me everything he did on the car, all I could say, with wide eyes and an unsquelchable smile, was, “Merry Christmas to me!” I was planning on getting him honey roasted cashews for Christmas or a new set of keys he could use to clean out his ears. I guess I’ll have to re-think those options.

Also, a dear friend of mine took it upon himself to send me a little package in the mail today. It was quite lovely and touching. Thank you, friend. You know who you are. I will send you an email sometime tomorrow to thank you personally.

Speaking of Christmas, I didn’t have to work on Sunday, and I went Christmas shopping with my mom and grandma. I’m planning on making most of my Christmas gifts this year, and I had a great time in the craft stores picking out the materials to purchase. I can’t wait to post some photos of what I make, but that, of course, will have to wait until after Christmas and the gifts have been bestowed upon their recipients. And, of course, after I actually make said gifts.

One thing I did purchase for my nephew Ezra is a baby toy of the future, and I can’t wait to give it to him. It’s a new take on a typical baby toy, and I knew it was great when my mom saw it and was disappointed that she hadn’t gotten it for him.

Speaking of my niece and nephew… I love them. They will be the hardest to leave in 9 days because they will be so much bigger when I see them again. It has been truly wonderful to be around them for the past month and a half. I don’t regret the decision to come home for a little while at all.

I promise that I will start writing about homeschooling soon. Today was my last day of work until I find a job in California, and I’m looking forward to letting my body rest for a while. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’m working out all day every day. Tomorrow I am sleeping in!

Before we begin today’s installment, let me just note that I have a kleenex stuffed up in my nostrils, hanging down over my face. It is the only way to keep the drips in without rubbing the sore rims of my nostrils. I used a decongestant, and while my sinuses are now killing me, at least I can breathe air without stupidly hanging my mouth open. One nice thing about long-distance dating is that you never need to be worried that you gave your significant other that cold. Baby, I miss you and haven’t hugged you in nearly four months, but that cold? Yeah. Not from me. But since we’re on the subject, FROM WHOM DID YOU GET THAT COLD IF IT WASN’T FROM ME?

I’m excited about the response I’ve gotten on the first two posts. Not everyone is willing to comment on the actual blog, but via the blog and friends on Facebook and MySpace, I’ve gotten some interesting feedback. I’d like to share it with you:

SC, the artist formerly known as D’s roommate, wrote, “[…] I’ll give people tips on how easy close-distance relationship s are… you know… cause they’re really easy. Plus to make you even MORE jealous… I get to see your boyfriend all the time!!!”

SC, if I were a mean person, I’d be mad at you for rubbing in the fact that you get to see my boyfriend more than I do. If I were your English teacher, I’d tell you to use exclamation points more sparingly and to please, PLEASE stop dotting them with little hearts.

All that aside, let’s address the real issue here. Pointing out that long-distance relationships are hard does not diminish the fact that ALL relationships are hard. SC is quite right in his sarcasm. I find it interesting that when it comes to a close-distance relationship, most people will say, “Oh I really like such and such so I’ll date such and such.” When it comes to a long-distance relationship, most people will say, “Oh, I really like such and such, but I’m not going to get involved because such and such lives too far away.” I guess I’m more of an advocate of the idea that if you really like that person, you’ll at least be willing to try. I understand that many hurdles come up when one gets involved in a long-distance relationship, and a lot of trust is required, but as our fine heart-dotting friend has pointed out above, ALL relationships will have hurdles, and trust will always be required.

Jennifer had a comment on the last post: “[…] Do you think these tidbits of long-distance dating advice could help a relationship that stretches across an ocean and not just a country? And C. The Hornets have moved to New Orleans. I believe this happened somewhere around 2002.”

This comment made me laugh because Jennifer’s knowledge illustrates just how little I really know about sports. I knew a little bit in junior high because my brother convinced me to start collecting basketball cards so he could trade with me. But that was like 13 years ago. Thanks for the knowledge. And yes, I do think the advice could be helpful for any couple in a long-distance relationship. Brad commented after Jennifer, asserting that once the person is a plane ride away, it’s pretty much all the same. I think I disagree with you, Brad. It’s cheaper for me to fly to L.A. than it is for me to fly to Holland to visit my other boyfriend, Olen. So my relationship with D is stronger because I see him more often than I see Olen. And the whole cultural thing is just a little challenging. Olen wants me to wear wooden shoes, and I have to remind him to stop telling me what to wear.

For the most part, long-distance daters depend on the telephone. Telephoning could get a little more tricky with an overseas partner because it costs more money. I can’t tell you how many times I have praised God that I have free evening and weekend minutes on my cell phone. We definitely take advantage of those. Now I guess there are technology advances like Skype that could help the overseas relationship considerably. Also, the Internet is a great resource for keeping in touch, though if I had to choose between seeing D’s grammar and hearing his voice, I’d choose his voice every time.

Sometimes couples will put off talking about a serious issue because they’d rather do it in person. This may be a healthy thing for couples who see one another regularly, but for the long-distance dater, speaking face-to-face isn’t always feasible. The tendency is to hoard those important things that need voicing with the excuse of wanting to talk about them in person, when what you really need to do is to just say what you think/want/need/etc. Don’t save it up. Resentment will build and because you aren’t around for your significant other to read your body language, your parter may not have any idea that something is bothering you. Bad communication is frequently the root of the Break Up.

Another important thing I’ve learned is that I need to support D’s life, even if it is far away. One reason it took me over a year to decide to move to the L.A. area is because D didn’t want me to come if I was just coming for him. I have my own life and my own interests and my goals. It just so happens that my goals can happen in L.A., and that D is close by is a HUGE perk. If he broke up with me tonight, I would understandably be a little heartbroken, but I think I would still go. D is a great part of my life, but he’s not my life.

D could’ve come back to Arkansas during his summer break, and honestly part of me hoped that he would. But when he decided to stay in California to take a class and spend time with his friends out there, I convinced myself to be glad for him. I mean, what was he going to do in Arkansas? Sure, he could’ve hung out with me, but I had my own life and job and friends. It was a better decision for him and his goals.

Today I started wondering if long-distance dating has become more common than it was, oh, say, 20 years ago. We have the internet now and internet dating sites. With technology, long-distance daters have an advantage of daily contact. D and I play Scrabble together over the internet. We send each other interesting links. I post lolcat pictures on his MySpace even though he keeps threatening to delete them, but even when he says he will, he never does, so I keep posting them. I’d like to know your thoughts. That means you, lurkers who don’t identify yourselves. Is long-distance dating more common than it was 20 years ago?

If you’re hesitant to post your answer on the blog you can email me at ann [dot] clipperton [at] hotmail [dot] com.

P.S. It was six degrees in Minnesota today with wind chills plunging to sub-zero temperatures. I’m California dreamin’.